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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
City of Zeph: A Philosophical Journey is an urban fantasy novella written by Robert Harrison Woolston. Zephaniah felt as though he had been jolted by lightning when he first beheld the New York City skyline with all its skyscrapers reaching up to heaven, slender bridges arching over rivers and waterways, and the endless streams of cars and vehicles coursing like blood through the arteries of that major city’s thoroughfares. He was on a quest to see this holy place, this mountain of a city. Zephaniah, or Zeph, was a student of philosophy and had found much joy in discovering the theories of the ancient Greeks. He followed those studies with a look at the later Stoics, then the Christian philosophers, all culminating in his discovery of Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra and the study of Eastern philosophers. Despite all his study, however, Zeph still didn’t know who God was, or where he was, or what was man’s purpose. He decided to search for answers in New York City, and watching the city begin to define itself through the window of the airplane, he was increasingly certain he’d find the answer there.
Robert Harrison Woolston’s urban fantasy novella, City of Zeph: A Philosophical Journey, follows the young philosopher as he steps off the plane and encounters the real New York City. There are entertaining moments as one watches him navigate the intricacies of taxi and subway travel, and sadder moments as Zeph discovers that the god behind the machinery of the city is more like lust for money than anything else. As someone who is familiar with New York, I enjoyed seeing the city through his eyes, even as I despaired when he beholds Trump Towers and all that the gilded edifice symbolizes. I also found Zeph’s musings on freedom and bravery, and what those concepts meant in today’s Manhattan, to be both thought-provoking and troubling. City of Zeph: A Philosophical Journey is highly recommended.